A welcome series is just what it sounds like. A series of email messages sent to welcome new users to your list and, more importantly, to turn these free subscribers into entities that achieve your business goals for them. This could be via direct sale, increased email or website page views (if you have a cost-per-impression ad model), or something else.
New users are a critical part of your list. They tend to have much higher open and click-through rates than people that have been on your list a while (see my case study showcasing this), so you want to leverage their interest in your email program before it wanes.
Welcome series are a flavor of drip campaign. Named for drip irrigation, the idea is to slowly present and build on your message over time, rather than doing a one-time "soaking" and hoping for the best. We're not talking about sending the same message over and over again (that would be a "resend") - we're talking about a series of different messages that each work on their own but that create synergy when two or more are viewed by the same person.
When you're looking to develop a drip campaign, it's important to focus on the content. Many organizations get all wrapped up in the logistics, which is typically easier but won't ensure that your campaign is effective.
Here's an example. When we start talking about a drip campaign, the first things clients and prospective clients talk about are a) the number of email efforts and b) the timing between them. Most want to know how many efforts, how many days apart, will optimize performance (usually they mean "generate the most revenue").
The problem is that there's not a one-size-fits-all answer.
In order to develop an effective drip campaign, you start by focusing on the content you have to present.
For ease, let's assume you're looking to make a direct sale.
I'd start by identifying the top selling items on your website; these have a high likelihood of appealing to your email subscribers. Next think about anything that's not a top product but which, for some other reason, would be desired by your email audience.
Now look at non-promotional information that you can "wrap around" your product offerings to create an email message that provides value without a purchase.
Why, when your goal is a direct sale, would you be looking for information that's related to the product or the problem it solves, but that isn't promotional?
Because the best welcome series are a mix of editorial (read: non-promotional) and promotional content. Think of it as the "magazine" model; you buy a magazine for the articles, but within that there is advertising that gets you to buy.
Here are a few examples:
The key to a successful welcome series isn't how many efforts or how many days apart you send it. It's the content of the message and how effective it is at driving readers to the action that you want them to take.
Take a few minutes to sketch out some good topic-product combinations that your business could use in a welcome series. Then put one in place and see how it boosts your bottom line.
Until next time,
This column was originally published on August 20, 2012.
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Jeanne Jennings is a 20 year veteran of the online/email marketing industry, having started her career with CompuServe in the late 1980s. As Vice President of Global Strategic Services for Alchemy Worx, Jennings helps organizations become more effective and more profitable online. Previously Jennings ran her own email marketing consultancy with a focus on strategy; clients included AARP, Hasbro, Scholastic, Verizon and Weight Watchers International. Want to learn more? Check out her blog.